Older couple looking over paperwork at counter with young woman

Choosing an Assisted Living Home


If you have been given the honor of finding a safe and secure community for your loved one, it is hard to know just where to start. Each community has different services and amenities. And each has a different method to determine how much they charge for care. Working in the senior living industry for 25 years, I have developed a method to compare assisted living communities that I hope you will find beneficial. We are going to look at the most common method used for assisted living pricing and how to compare the services and amenities included in the pricing. A tool designed to help you with your search is available for download. The first page is used for comparing services and amenities and the second page is used to compare pricing.

The Process

  1. Your first step is to research assisted living communities online. It is easier to process your findings in the comfort of your own home. When it is time to tour communities, it will be difficult to remember details of each community which becomes overwhelming. The more research you can do up front the better.
  1. Secondly, call each community and ask them to send you a brochure, with pricing. If you do not ask for pricing, it may be excluded. Use the brochure to fill in any other services and amenities and fill in pricing in your cost comparison tool.
  1. Next you will schedule a tour of each community that you consider a good fit for your loved one. While touring, ask for a copy of their menu and activities calendar. Take pictures to help you remember each community. Your first picture should be the sign with the community's name. This allows you to know that the pictures following the sign belong to that community.
  1. Narrow your search to the top two or three and schedule a second tour. Bring any other decision makers to this tour. They can tour in person or virtually using Facetime or a similar app.
  1. Before you leave the second tour, ask the community representative to give you a few minutes to discuss your thoughts with the decision makers. When the representative joins you again, go through any unanswered questions. This allows you to get answers before you leave the community.

The Base Rate

Most communities have a base rate or starting rate. This rate covers the cost of living in the community and the services and amenities it provides.  

To make this comparison, you should look at the services and amenities that matter to your loved one. If they would like a community with a swimming pool, you will count that as a benefit to your loved one. But if they have no interest in swimming, there is no need to make the swimming pool a factor in your decision.

Services are the things that the community will do for your loved one. The basic services that assisted living communities offer are Activities, Housekeeping, Laundry, Meals, and Snacks. You will want to look for ways that each community stands above the competition in these services and note the added services offered and the added cost.

The Amenities are the items offered in the building's design, such as a private dining room, library, movie theatre, or beauty shop. You will want to decide which amenities your loved one will use. The amenities that your loved one would not use are irrelevant to the comparison.

Level of Care Rate

The method used to calculate the level of care rate varies by community. The most common method of deciding the Level of Care rate is a point system. Before a resident is admitted they will receive an assessment of their needs. This assessment is used to decide the care points. The number of points will determine which Level of Care the resident falls under and the rates are decided accordingly. Residents are reassessed regularly, and points may go up or down as their needs change. You will want to ask how many levels of care the community offers, and the added cost of each level of care. This will allow you to make a good comparison.  

Additional considerations

You will want to consider the highest level of care that the community can manage without causing a resident to move out. Moving can be incredibly stressful and upsetting to your loved one. It is best to find a community that allows your loved one to stay as long as possible with the friends and staff that they know and that know your loved one.

Sometimes, a community will offer a low base rate to entice people to visit the community, but when the level of care rate is added to the base rate, the cost may be more than the other communities that you are comparing. They may say that the exact cost cannot be decided until your loved one’s assessment is completed, which is true, but they can give you a list of the level of care charges.

I hope that you have found this information useful. If you have any questions, please contact us and we will be glad to help in any way that we can.

Contact Our Assisted Living Community